In case you missed the news on Monday, GSA assistant commissioner of the Federal Acquisitions Service's Integrated Technology Service John C. Johnson announced his retirement effective May 2.
Stepping into his shoes will be current FAS chief information officer Ed O'Hare, who brings a technical background and a reputation for pragmatism to his new job.
O'Hare sat down to speak with Nextgov about the challenges of his new job, saying he plans to emphasize the "Integrated" in ITS. Praising Johnson for doing the "heavy lifting" of awarding integrated IT and telecom contracts such as Networx and Alliant, O'Hare said his goal is to administer those vehicles, keep them compliant and make sure GSA's customer agencies know about the various procurement options that are available.
He also offered some words of encouragement to industry: "I've worked as a vendor; I know what it's like to be on that end; I know the challenges as a vendor being on multiple contracts," he said. "I'm going to focus on making those challenges less daunting."
Among the areas O'Hare plans to focus on is the ongoing transition from the expired FTS2001 contract to the Networx telecom vehicle. He also said he hopes to improve the cycle time on the Schedule 70 IT contract, so GSA can make awards more rapidly without sacrificing any value.
As CIO O'Hare has been heavily involved with supporting the White House's stimulus transparency web site Recovery.gov and has helped with the planning of the new federal data site Data.gov. He will be handing off those responsibilities to Elizabeth Delnegro, who was named acting CIO at FAS.
As one of the few CIOs who has been promoted to a higher position, O'Hare said he is encouraged by the statements of President Obama and federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra that the CIO will have more of a role in strategic planning and discussions.
"It's always been my personal agenda that CIOs should be more strategic," O'Hare said. He pointed to programs such as GSA Advantage, which debuted in 1995, as examples of strategic thinking that should be encouraged.
"The kinds of things Obama and Kundra talked about are strategic and transformational: cloud computing, social computing, crowd-sourcing," O'Hare said. "When you're CIO, you try to build bleeding edge applications. When I get up to ITS, it gives me more time to focus on boiling down those bleeding-edge technologies into something usable."
O'Hare added that the hardest part of government embracing those newer, more innovative technologies is having the right contract vehicle in place.
"As a CIO, I realize this: first you have to have a good idea, then make sure you have the money you need, then you build an acquisition strategy. You can have the best idea in the world, but with no money or acquisition strategy, you will go nowhere."